Deterrence is the use of threats to convince an adversary from taking an action and is part of a larger concept of coercion. Throughout history, deterrence has been used by people and states to manage conflict. The first Neanderthal to find a bigger stick to ward off enemies was practicing deterrence. Though deterrence has been around for years, the formal development of deterrence theory came about after World War II to find ways to think about and utilize nuclear weapons. Deterrence theory has evolved considerably and scholars continue to probe difficult questions that remain unanswered regarding deterrence. This course examines the foundational concepts of deterrence theory and how that theory has evolved over the years. In addition, we consider the application of deterrence to international security through case studies in both Europe and Asia in the post-Cold War years. Finally, we assess current nuclear arsenals and strategy along with the role deterrence continues to play in the future of nuclear weapons.
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